Council calls for a boycott of Arizona

Condemns state’s immigration law; Menino considers canceling contracts

By Martin Finucane and Stephanie Ebbert
Globe Staff / May 6, 2010

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Mayor Thomas M. Menino, joining the City Council in registering strong objections to the tough new immigration laws in Arizona, said yesterday that he will consider canceling city contracts with firms based in the state that agree with the crackdown.

As the City Council passed a resolution urging that Boston cut business ties with Arizona, Menino said it was important to send “a message’’ that the city disagrees with that state’s response to illegal immigration.

“It’s a message saying America is a land of opportunity,’’ he said. “Now there’s one little state out there saying, we don’t want that land of opportunity. We want to be isolationists.’’

Menino added, “To say you’re not welcome in your state to work, that’s wrong. This country was built on immigrants. My grandfather, so many other folks, came to America looking for that hope of a better future.’’

The mayor’s aides said they had already identified one contract, a $1.1 million agreement between the Boston Centers for Youth & Families and an Arizona software firm, that would be newly scrutinized, and that there may be others. Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce, said the mayor intends to write to officials of each firm and inquire about their views on immigration.

Earlier in the day, the City Council, weighing in on legislation that has generated nationwide controversy, passed a resolution calling for the city not to invest in state or local government in Arizona. A brief round of cheers broke out in the chamber after the unanimous voice vote.

The nonbinding measure — authored by the board’s president, Michael Ross, and Councilor Felix G. Arroyo— calls for the city “to the extent reasonable . . . not to participate in any business activities substantially connected with the State of Arizona and municipalities in Arizona.’’

The resolution also calls for the city to review its investments in Arizona state or municipal bonds and to review travel by city employees to Arizona for conferences and other official business, Arroyo said.

“As a city, we have long rejected the idea that racial profiling is sound public safety policy,’’ Arroyo said. “And we decided we don’t want to invest in a state that believes otherwise.’’

Ross said he was “outraged when I heard about the Arizona law that requires anyone who looks ‘reasonably suspicious’ to be stopped and asked to prove that they’re a legal resident of the United States. The last time people were stopped and asked for papers in this country, it was during the era of slavery.’’

No one spoke against the proposal, said a Ross spokeswoman.

City councilors have reported a slew of angry calls over the resolution after some talk radio commentators urged listeners to call councilors. Advocates for immigrants also phoned councilors, urging them to support it.

Governor Janice K. Brewer of Arizona has said that her state is “acting responsibly to address a border security crisis that is not of our making.’’

“The federal government’s failure requires us to act to protect our citizens, and we are doing just that,’’ she said in signing an amendment to the bill that she said was intended to prevent racial profiling.

A spokesman for the governor, Paul Senseman, said that in Arizona, both proponents and opponents of the law have come out against economic boycotts.

“It is clear that an economic boycott of Arizona would indiscriminately harm innocent people,’’ he said.

The African-American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha decided to move its 104th convention from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The Major League Baseball Players Association condemned the action. The Phoenix Suns of the NBA have also announced that in protest of the law, their players would wear jerseys bearing the name “Los Suns’’ during a playoff game.

Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles are considering measures similar to Boston’s.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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